Previous Section Index Home Page

The needs of disabled children and their families represent the beginning of my journey to this House.
23 Jan 2007 : Column 1386
At the age of 14, I began doing voluntary work for Outreach, a voluntary organisation that still serves my constituents by supporting children with learning disabilities on school holiday play schemes. I then started to support adults with learning disabilities on a leisure integration programme. That became my passion and my career choice. At the age of 19, I set up and ran a small voluntary organisation, Contact, a community care group offering children and adults leisure opportunities as well as providing respite to families. Contact still offers support to adults and their families in my constituency.

Through that work, I learned much about myself, but more importantly I learned so much about the realities faced by disabled people of all ages and their families and carers. That taught me the values that are the foundations of my political beliefs, and it makes me proud to have the opportunity in Government to influence, and sometimes shape, change in that regard. I and my ministerial colleagues are strongly committed to policies such as “in Control”, direct payments and individual budgets, which will transfer power and control in the delivery and shaping of services from organisations to those who use services and their families.

So what are the values to which I refer? Every disabled child is an individual with distinct needs, emotions and potential. Every disabled child has a fundamental right to be included as part of their community and our society. I get angry when I hear some politicians and commentators deride inclusion as having failed and as being simply about political correctness, and when they talk only of those parents seeking special or segregated education, and when they talk about disabled children in a patronising, demeaning way.

Of course our system is not yet as good as it needs to be in terms of specialist expertise, sensitivity and resources; the hon. Member for Buckingham (John Bercow) made that point. Attitudes, including among some educationalists, are not always as they should be.

I accept that some parents still feel that special schools are the best available option. In my constituency, I am proud of Elms Bank which was one of the first special secondary schools to achieve specialist status and recently made it into the top 5 per cent. of schools for value added performance, including mainstream schools.

I could also however introduce Members to many parents who have fought against the professionals and the system to demand a mainstream education for their children, and who could describe the thrill of their child’s first day alongside their non-disabled brother or sister at the local school, or who have cried themselves to sleep because the local education system has come up with all sorts of reasons why their child has to be excluded from the mainstream system. Those parents deserve to be heard in this debate, and more generally.

The hon. Member for Buckingham, who now has extremely important personal experience, made a fantastic speech which I could not disagree with a word of. He talked about the importance of trained support staff. Our debate should not be about being for or against inclusion; we should recognise that to make a reality of inclusion, which should be the norm for the vast majority of disabled children, we have to get to a situation in which specialist support staff are available to provide the necessary support.

23 Jan 2007 : Column 1387

In the context of change, I remember those who vigorously opposed the closure of the long-stay mental handicap hospitals in the 1980s and 1990s. They said that “mentally handicapped” people could not possibly live in the community; that they needed looking after by nurses; that they somehow posed a risk to children. I wish that those people could see today adults with learning disabilities being supported in living in their own homes by organisations such as Outreach and Build, in my constituency. After 30 or 40 years of being locked away in institutions, they live ordinary lives as neighbours, friends and family members in our community. In my current role, and in the aftermath of Cornwall and Orchard Hill, I am determined to ensure that the remaining four hospitals are closed and the residents provided with the support that they deserve in the community.

Change should of course be done properly, for the right reasons and with respect for the needs and preferences of children and their parents, but inclusion is right. Members should reflect on this: how many citizens opt for exclusion from society when given an authentic choice? We need to think about that when we make such policy decisions. Our long-term goal should be to maximise inclusion in education, health, leisure and work and all areas of public policy.

I also want to share with Members my view of Scope’s current campaign as it relates to the recent decision to restrict the growth of a disabled child in the United States of America. I am always reluctant to appear in any way critical of parents and the difficult decisions that they make about their children. That is particularly the case when, owing to a serious disability, the parent may feel genuinely unable to establish the view of the child or young person. However, I believe that every child has the right, irrespective of any disability, to grow into an adult physically, and with all the rights and opportunities available to every other citizen. Scope, in my view, is right to make a stand in this country on that issue.

Over the years, much of my personal inspiration has come from examples of battling parents, grandparents and carers: people such as Lynne Elwell, who, following her many negative experiences of the system as the mother of the late Nicola, has created a national network called Partners in Policymaking. I urge Members in all parts of the House to find out more about that organisation. Parents and people with learning disabilities participate in training courses, leading to the status of a Partners graduate. Partners in Policymaking empowers parents and disabled people to build their confidence, knowledge and support systems, so that they can fight for their rights as partners, not as adversaries of professionals and the system. I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North and Fleetwood that, in many ways, the best advocates are parents who have themselves been through the system and can represent the interests of other parents. I believe very strongly in building such networks around the country.

When I speak to Raymond, the late Nicola’s father, I feel not only the acute pain of his loss, but his enduring anger at the failure of the system on so many occasions during her life. We should also consider people such as Geraldine Green, who is not only a full-time carer for her grandchildren but runs an enterprising local
23 Jan 2007 : Column 1388
voluntary organisation called Hurdles, which offers a range of support for disabled children and their families in my constituency and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North (Mr. Chaytor). These individuals and, as the hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) said in his opening remarks, many others are the heroes whose vision and commitment have been born out of frustration—sometimes anger—at the failings of the system.

I now turn to some of the contributions made by Members. The hon. Member for South-West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous) talked about the importance of information sharing between agencies to ensure that people get a truly joined-up service. I share that view, but I ask him to reconsider his party’s opposition to data sharing on the sometimes spurious ground of civil liberties. On physical restraint, I should also point out that Opposition Members cannot say that they are against targets imposed by central Government, and then ask us to direct every head teacher in every school in the country to do what, frankly, I believe should be regarded in most schools as best practice. The hon. Gentleman is wrong about initial teacher training, which has a significant focus on the requirement to be sensitive to special educational needs, but we can share more information with him on that issue at another time. As a distinguished member of the Work and Pensions Committee, the hon. Gentleman signed up to a report that said that the Government were on target to halve child poverty by 2010, but tonight he has signed up to a motion claiming that that will not be achieved.

The hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Danny Alexander)—that is a difficult one at this time of night—made an excellent speech. It was fair, balanced, credible and sensible. He made the important point that the interventions that we make in childhood and the early years do not affect the child only during that period of their life, but their whole life opportunities. He made several other important points.

My hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North and Fleetwood was once the chair of a social services committee, as I was, and she made several very important points. Of course we have to grapple with the consequences of demographic change, which means that people thankfully live longer and have fuller lives, but their disabilities can also be more complex and more challenging. She was right to refer to the centrality of the transition from being a child to being a young adult, and the need—as we are now doing across Government—to have that as a standing item on the inter-ministerial group that looks at all matters to do with disabled people. She was also right to draw attention to the fact that key workers should be at the heart of a future system, in terms of guiding parents through all the complex issues.

Andrew Selous: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Lewis: I am afraid that I have no time to give way to the hon. Gentleman.

As I have said, the hon. Member for Buckingham made an excellent speech. He speaks with great authority, credibility and integrity on these matters and he does not seek to make cheap party political points. I could not disagree with one single element of the
23 Jan 2007 : Column 1389
contribution that he made to the debate. I would gently say to him that we do now have a common assessment framework for children for the first time. It is being rolled out across the country and I hope that it will add value and make a difference. The hon. Gentleman mentioned children with autism, and our extension of the child and adolescent mental health services—CAMHS—teams across the country means that we now have more specialist professionals who have expertise in autism and who are able to make assessments at an early stages as part of the CAMHS system.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stourbridge (Lynda Waltho) mentioned cuts being imposed by a Tory council in Dudley on transport for disabled children and voluntary youth services. I urge Opposition Front Benchers to intervene with their colleagues who run that local authority.

In nearly 10 years, this Government have done a lot that has had a positive impact on the daily lives of disabled children, their parents and families. I want to pay particular tribute to the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling (Mrs. McGuire), who has done a tremendous job in her capacity as the Minister with responsibility for disabled people.

We have doubled the NHS budget since 1997 and will have almost tripled it by 2008. We have increased education funding per pupil since 1997 from £3,050 to £4,490. We have identified as one of our nation’s top priorities the elimination of child poverty. We have funded the early support programme to improve the quality of co-ordination for young disabled children. We have published a range of supporting guidance on transition, complex disability, palliative care and autism. We have significantly increased funding for short breaks through the carer’s grant, extended the mobility element of the DLA to children from the age of three, and doubled the disabled child and carer’s premium since 1997. We have awarded £27 million for three years, starting in 2006-07, to support children’s hospices and the provision of palliative care. We have developed Sure Start and new children’s centres in every community. We have established the Office for Disability Issues. We are currently considering as a priority the needs of disabled children and their families as part of the comprehensive spending review process, and I will soon announce a new deal for carers, including specific funding for emergency respite care.

Every disabled child matters. All parties have a duty to seek improvements that will achieve a truly joined-up system, for children and for those at the crucial transition stage between childhood and adulthood.

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire) (Con) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House proceeded to a Division.

23 Jan 2007 : Column 1390

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate the delay in the No Lobby.

The House having divided: Ayes 231, Noes 288.

Division No. 030]
[9.59 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Conway, Derek
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Donaldson, Mr. Jeffrey M.
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Francois, Mr. Mark
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Holmes, Paul
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John

Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Main, Anne
Maples, Mr. John
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
McCrea, Dr. William
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Rennie, Willie
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowen, Paul
Russell, Bob
Salmond, Mr. Alex
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Simpson, David
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Tredinnick, David
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Wishart, Pete
Wright, Jeremy
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. David Evennett and
Mr. Mark Lancaster

Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.

Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davies, Mr. Dai
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan

Linton, Martin
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGrady, Mr. Eddie
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Morgan, Julie
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simpson, Alan
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Claire Ward and
Jonathan Shaw
Question accordingly negatived.
Next Section Index Home Page